Another instrument, ShadowCam, will record images of regions of the Moon that are permanently in shadow. Scientists hope to find hidden sources of water and ice in these dark and cold regions located near the poles.
“If this mission is successful, South Korea will become the seventh country in the world to have launched an unmanned probe to the Moon,” a KARI official told AFP.
“This is a pivotal moment for South Korea’s space development program, and we hope to continue contributing to the global understanding of the Moon with what Danuri will discover,” he added.
According to South Korean scientists, Danuri – which took seven years to build – will pave the way for more ambitious goals. South Korea plans to land a spacecraft on lunar soil by 2030.
South Korea is the 12th largest economy in the world and one of the most technologically advanced countries, but it has so far lagged behind in the conquest of space. While elsewhere in Asia, China, Japan and India have developed advanced space programs.
If Danuri was launched by SpaceX, a private company, South Korea had successfully lifted off in June its first nationally designed rocket, Nuri, which had put several satellites into orbit, after a failure in October.